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TechCrunch+ roundup: PLG handbook, hiring early-stage sales teams, abolishing pro-rata

In a previous era, startups that gained influence with CIOs could skate through the procurement process and start planning seminars for new customers as soon as contracts were finalized.

Today, a decade or more into the End User Era, consumers have become the tail that wags the dog.

Product-led growth models have been widely embraced: Instead of devoting resources to customer acquisition, PLG companies ship and scale quickly and more efficiently. They also tend to go public faster.


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Optimizing time-to-value, using data to calibrate customer touchpoints, and giving every employee “a shared understanding of the customer’s journey” is how PLG giants like Slack and Dropbox carved out their niche, writes Vidya Raman, a partner at Sorenson Ventures.

She shared her prerequisites for making product-led efforts more successful and sustainable with TechCrunch+.

“Think in bite-sized experiences, each of which would be a meaningful outcome for the customer,” she says.

Her advice skips straight past basic best practices to explain alignment and partnership strategies, recommendations for nurturing community, and other PLG tactics.

Related: I’m talking to GV investor/partner Terri Burns about finding product-market fit on April 14 at TC Early Stage. I hope you can join the conversation!

Have a great weekend,

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch+
@yourprotagonist

It’s time to hold investors accountable and abolish pro-rata

analog clock and ball of US paper currency equally balanced on seesaw weight scale

Image Credits: PM Images (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Many investors shower entrepreneurs with praise and attention early on, only to fade into the background.

“Based on what our founders told us, a solid 20% of cap table contributors don’t even help their founders make strategic connections,” wrote Vijay Chattha and Jay Kapoor, general partners at VSC Ventures.

In a call for industry reform, Kapoor and Chattha suggest replacing pro-rata clauses with performance-based covenants.

“A performance-rata clause will look different for each investor on a founder’s cap table. Larger firms might be able to offer a suite of services, whereas solo GPs and smaller funds might specialize in a particular business function like marketing, sales, design, engineering or PR.”

3 factors to consider when building an early-stage cloud sales team

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Image Credits: Tim Flach (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Hiring an experienced sales professional who’s also comfortable with the uncertainty that comes with working at an early-stage startup is a tall order.

“Founders need someone who gets the big picture, understands the business domain, loves the technology, and, crucially, asks a lot of questions,” says Andy Stinnes, general partner at Cloud Apps Capital Partners.

Cloud providers’ default retention policies are not enough: You better back your SaaS up

Network cables connected to cloud

Image Credits: Eoneren (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

A lot of work today has moved to the cloud as SaaS tools replace traditional on-prem software in the enterprise.

But while SaaS tools make life easier, the nature of cloud businesses and their data retention policies mean that in the event of a cyber attack or failure, you’re responsible for backing up all the data used by those tools, not your cloud provider, points out Brian Spanswick, CISO and head of IT at Cohesity.

To safeguard their data, companies must proactively put in place mechanisms to protect, back up and recover all data being used by SaaS tools within the enterprise, Spanswick writes.

“Relying on providers’ default retention and recovery policies is just not enough.”

Dear Sophie: How long does it take to get International Entrepreneur Parole?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

Both my co-founder and I have E-2 status. We need to find a quick visa option, as a VC investment will dilute our equity, and we will no longer be eligible for the E-2.

We are looking at International Entrepreneur Parole as an option since we would easily qualify based on the investment we’re expecting, and it seems easier than an O-1A.

How long does IEP take? How can we expedite?

— Fast-Flying Founder

Despite declines, the value of crypto assets in DeFi protocols is up 3x from a year ago

Although 18 of the top 100 decentralized finance chains fell in value in recent days, “the rest, it appears, are riding a rising wave on the back of demand and early adopter enthusiasm,” according to Jacquelyn Melinek, our new senior crypto reporter.

The total value locked (TVL) across all DeFi chains has fallen approximately 16% since last December, “but market players feel the DeFi space is still in its early stages and has room to grow.”

What Yuga Labs wants to build after raising $450M

The Bored Ape Yacht Club was an unprecedented success for Yuga Labs, and with a fresh $450 million in capital, the crypto startup is aiming to build a full-fledged universe for its apes.

Taking cues from Second Life, Yuga Labs plans to open the gates to a wider audience with an “interoperable gaming metaverse” that will leverage its newly minted APEcoin, wrote Alex Wilhelm in The Exchange.

Alex dives deep into Yuga’s proposed plans for this “MetaRPG,” its investor deck, and how its financials paint a picture of a company that, while valued like a gaming concern, stands to make a lot of money if it plays its cards well.

Using data to solve key pain points for today’s banking customers

Illustration of fingers in mousetrap against colored background representing trapped

Image Credits: Malte Mueller (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Banks and fintechs can access more data than ever, but much of the benefits have flowed in one direction: Inflation and stagnant wages limit consumers’ ability to save, but services like buy now, pay later make it much easier to spend.

Algorithms, social media and collaborative filtering have dramatically enhanced product discovery, but to give customers more financial support, “modern banks can use data and build trust to improve consumer financial health,” writes Uday Akkaraju, CEO of fintech firm Bond.ai.